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Ten Tips to Make Sure Your Wooden Swing Set is Safe

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Swing sets add so much to a child's life. They allow for activity and exercise; they promote socialization by allowing many youngsters to play at once, cooperating and problem-solving together; and they give kids something to look forward to outdoors.

For parents, swing sets keep the kids busy, freeing up the afternoons for chores--or even better, some relaxation. What's more relaxing than knowing your kids are having fun playing on a swing set in your backyard? Knowing the kids are having fun playing on a safe swing set. Below is a list of things to keep in mind if you are looking for a strong, durable wooden swing set.

1. Protective Surfacing: A safe swing set needs a safe surfacing, such as rubber mulch, to lay beneath and around the equipment. Grass and turf are not options, as they do not have the ability to absorb shock, according to The US Consumer Product Safety Commission. A swing set should never be built on asphalt or concreteThe experts at Best in Backyards recommend at least three inches of rubber mulch on your playground surface. Click here to read the CPCS's guidelines on other materials, such as bark mulch, wood chips, fine sane and fine gravel.

2. The Six Feet Rule: There should be at least six feet of unobstructed space surrounding the swing set in all areas. This is called the use zone, and, to prevent interference, it should be clear of any fencing, rock walls, trees, shrubs or other equipment.

3. Level Area: When placing your cedar swing set, be sure the area is level. This will maximize the swing set's activities and surfacing materials.

4. Recessed Hardware: All hardware should be countersunk so the bolt caps sit inside the wood, rather than on top. This method means loose clothing is less likely to catch. Plastic caps are not recommended as they can fall off or break over time.

5. Edges and Sanding: All of the wood parts should be sanded smooth. The edges and corners should be rounded, too. This helps to prevent splintering, and it helps the kids avoid minor abrasions.

6. Coatings: Ropes and chains are safer when they are coated in some sort of soft material. For example, swing chains should be heated, primed and plastisol-coated for a safe, smooth grip and no pinching.

7. Stain or Sealer: To maintain the wood's natural beauty and prevent checking, cracking or splintering, an application of clear wood sealer or semi-transparent stain should be applied on an annual basis.

8. Maintenance: Check all hardware annually.

9. Upkeep: Replace accessories and tent tops if necessary.

10. Replenish: If you have wood mulch make sure you refill it regularly as it will compact and deteriorate over the years. Sand or other loose fill should be raked and "fluffed" up.

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